Macau authorities are expecting an increase in passenger volume after new border crossing schedules are put in force tomorrow. They believe that the existing number of border crossings will rise three to four times at the Lotus Border and 15 percent at the Border Gate, while passenger flow is expected to alleviate and divide into different borders and respective extended schedules.
In an official visit to Macau’s three border checkpoints yesterday, Ku Keng Hin, senior officer at Macau’s Immigration Department revealed that they forecast a 15 percent increase on passenger volume at the Border Gate, which is currently used by 300,000 to 350,000 people per day.
He also revealed that there are currently 2,500 to 3,000 people using the Zhuhai-Macau Cross-Border Industrial Park checkpoint daily. Once the border begins operating around the clock, Macau authorities believe the number of citizens using it to cross to either Macau or Zhuhai will reach 30,000 per day.
As for the Hengqin border, located in Cotai, between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. the checkpoint is currently used by less than 20,000 people. However, the passenger volume could reach 50,000 to 60,000 after it starts operating on a 24-hour basis.
In the early hours of tomorrow, the Lotus Bridge Cotai Frontier Post (connected to Hengqin) will start operating continuously, while the Border Gate (connected to Gongbei) will operate between 6am and 1am, an hour longer before and after its previous closing and opening times.
The Cotai checkpoint’s new schedule will be applied to visitors, residents and non-resident workers from mainland China, as well as passenger cars and heavy vehicles holding mainland and Macau registration plates.
Finally, late night crossings through the Cross-Border Industrial Zone Checkpoint will open between midnight and 7am only to pedestrians, including Macau residents, non-resident workers from mainland China and students.
This Industrial Zone checkpoint is therefore the only one currently in operation for the entire 24 hours. However, it is only available for use by those holding a special pass into the Industrial Zone.
The ultimate goal of Macau’s authorities is to achieve 24-hour border crossing at the Border Gate, Macau’s main checkpoint.
Authorities assured concerned residents yesterday that special measures and new arrangements have been taken to ensure the smooth implementation of the new border schedules.
Forty-five new immigration employees will be working at the Cotai checkpoint as the border starts operating around the clock in the early hours of tomorrow, connecting Macau to Hengqin Island.
In addition, a higher number of e-channels will be available. At the Industrial Zone border, there will be six e-channels and three regular channels. The Border Gate will have a total of 124 e-channels – including arrivals and departures – of which 34 have just been added.
Ku Keng Hin stressed that the new schedules will improve border crossing procedures for both residents and non-resident workers. He hinted that they do not expect an increase in passenger volume, but rather an overall redistribution of current passengers through different borders and timetables, providing them with more options to enter Macau.
The new border schedules will be implemented one day before Chinese president Xi Jinping arrives in town to participate in the 15th anniversary celebrations of Macau’s handover to China.
Analysts have argued that Macau’s new border crossing policies will be of benefit to the region, boosting visitation and possibly gaming revenue.
DSAT reinforces bus shifts
As Macau’s three cross-border checkpoints will commence operation under new extended schedules as of tomorrow, the Transport Bureau (DSAT) confirmed yesterday that it will be enhancing bus routes and extending some buses’ service hours.
The 19 routes that pass through Border Gate (connected to Zhuhai) will see their shifts improved while the eight lines passing through the Lotus Bridge Frontier Post (connected to Hengqin) will be adjusted to cover the border’s new continuous schedule. In addition, more Route 25 shifts have been added, while a new night bus (N4) is introduced.
The schedule of Route 27, which connects the Green Island area (Ilha Verde) and the Border Gate, was also extended to serve those wishing to use the Cross-Border Industrial Zone Checkpoint.
DSAT said that it has been working to improve the traffic situation in order to optimize circulation in the areas surrounding Macau’s three borders. Further information on the new bus schedules passing through border checkpoints is available at www.dsat.gov.mo.